At least two people have died and a third, a girl, has been injured in an explosion that took place on the strategic Kerch bridge, which connects the Crimean peninsula with mainland Russia.
The National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) has indicated that “at 3:05 a.m. (local time), two unmanned surface vehicles attacked the Crimean bridge.” “As a result of this terrorist attack, the road area of the bridge was damaged,” he said. The two deceased are a married couple who were in a car and the wounded is the couple’s daughter.
Crimean Governor Sergei Aksenov has announced the suspension of traffic on the Kerch bridge. The vehicles that were waiting to cross the bridge – around a thousand – have turned around. “Given the current situation, I ask the residents and tourists of the peninsula to refrain from traveling over the Crimean bridge and, for security reasons, choose an alternative land route through the new regions,” said the adviser to the authorities of the Crimean peninsula, Oleg Kryuchkov, referring to the annexed Ukrainian territories.
The Russian authorities blame Kiev directly for what happened, describing the raid as a “terrorist action.” This has been cataloged by the NAK, which points to the Ukrainian “secret services”, and the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zajárova, who also accuses Washington and London of being behind the attack and providing cover for what she calls “terrorist regime”. The Investigative Committee of Russia (CK in its acronym in Russian) has opened a criminal case for “terrorism”. As a consequence of the attack, the bridge has had to be closed to traffic, including the railway, even though it is not damaged. Rail traffic has resumed after five hours suspended. The National Anti-Terrorist Committee of Russia (NAK in its Russian acronym) maintains that the attack has completely destroyed one of the pillars of the infrastructure while the second has rendered another of the supports useless.
The Governor of Crimea, Sergei Axionov, has urged tourists and local residents to “use other access routes to Crimea through the new Russian territories”, referring to the southern part of the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, which are being frequently bombarded by the Ukrainian Army in the framework of the counteroffensive launched at the beginning of last month. Axiónov has also promised the resumption of the ferry service to evacuate those who wish to do so from the peninsula.
The photos and videos disseminated on social networks show two sections of the bridge’s automobile roadway completely destroyed. “The section to Taman – in Krasnodar – has been destroyed and the one that goes to Kerch – in Crimea – has sunk,” writes the Telegram channel “Shot”. One of the explosions killed the couple coming from the Belgorod region and their 14-year-old daughter was seriously injured and had to be hospitalized.
The Ferry, for the moment, has not resumed service. Axiónov maintains that there is enough food and fuel on the peninsula waiting for the bridge to be repaired. However, the damage is evidently much more serious than that caused by the attack carried out on October 8, 2022, which took months to return to normal.
Andri Yusov, spokesman for the General Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, in a comment to the Suspilna publication, has pointed out that due to the destruction of a section of the bridge, the Russian Army in Ukraine will have problems with logistics. “The Russians use the peninsula as a major logistics center to move forces and resources into the interior of Ukraine. Of course, any logistical problem is an additional complication for the invaders,” Yusov stressed.
This bridge was the scene at the beginning of October of a strong explosion in the framework of the war with Ukraine that put the infrastructure out of service for several months. That partial destruction of the Kerch bridge was one of the most symbolic blows against Russia since the start of its military offensive in February. The Kremlin blamed Ukrainian intelligence for being behind the attack from the outset, and confirmed several arrests as part of an investigation into alleged terrorism.
Inaugurated by Putin in 2018, it is one of the most important infrastructure works on the peninsula since its annexation in 2014 and a symbolic and practical example of the connection of this territory to Russia. The structure, 19 kilometers long, includes a rail transport track and a highway.